I have myself been inspired and catapulted into getting involved in conservation, by attending events where I have met ordinary people doing extraordinary things with their lives. Working hard to make a difference to ensure that we leave this world a better place for now and for future generations.
It is so easy to go through life thinking that your small effort does not matter. But it does, and your effort can inspire others and the ongoing effects can be endless.
I love to hear stories about people. Where they came from, and how they got to be where they are today.
I met Anna by chance. Although I don’t believe anything happens by chance. There always seems to be a reason for every interaction we have. Sometimes these “chance” meetings come out of inconvenient situations.
As in this case, when Air France lost my bag. My bag happened to contain supplies for one of the anti-poaching units in Hoedspruit, South Africa. After much blood, sweat and tears, I actually did receive my bag back. I had received a phone call from the baggage claim at Johannesburg International Airport, the night before I was flying back into South Africa.
I delivered the bag to Anna from Rhino Revolution. Anna was not the original intended recipient of my bag, but she had offered to meet up with me to deliver the bag. We immediately felt a connection and at that time I knew that we would meet again.
Anna works for Rhino Revolution (www.rhinorevolution.org), which is a small community-based operation that has a rhino orphanage, pangolin ICU and sponsors rhino releases, tracking and dehorning (dehorning being one of the measures implemented in South Africa to try to deter the ever-increasing rhino horn poaching). It is estimated that every 10 hours in South Africa, a rhino is brutally murdered for nothing more than 2-3 kg of keratin, much like our hair and nails. Rhino horn fetches upwards of $100,000 per kg, contributing to the fact that wildlife trafficking is a $20 billion a year revenue, proven to fund global terrorism.
I completed my trip and returned home. A month later I attended a rhino fundraiser, and I felt a compelling need to get involved welling up inside of me.
I contacted Anna again and our relationship began to grow. I asked her how a young girl from the United Kingdom had landed up working at a rhino orphanage in a small town of South Africa.
This is her story.
Anna arrived in South Africa to work with African Dream Horse Safaris, combining her love for horses with the bush. Then followed 4 years working with Dr Peter Rogers at his practice, ProVet Wildlife Services. Here she gained invaluable knowledge and experience of surgical procedures, emergency and routine healthcare and laboratory testing for various small animals as well as wildlife. With a background in horse racing, she followed Rhino Revolution’s Mounted Anti-Poaching Unit and jumped at the chance to join the team.
She fell in love with the horse trails through the bush, the complete tranquility of stargazing and sitting round a campfire at night, and being surrounded by animals in every aspect of day-to-day life.
She told me that she works in rehabilitation, as it is so unbelievably rewarding seeing the difference made in the lives of animals in need. That effort should be made towards conservation, and preserving the natural ecosystems in place.
The areas in conservation that she works in include sponsoring of rhino dehorning as an effort to prevent/deter poaching, rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned or confiscated/poached animals to be released back into the wild, and providing anti-poaching security to released animals and at the same time monitoring activity and behavior through patrols and camera traps to collect data on the individuals.
She Is also involved in a conservation-based education program in the local communities, whereby they fund trips, lessons, equipment, transport, teacher salaries etc. to provide for groups of children from 11 different schools in disadvantaged areas. Teaching these young lives skills, education and empathy towards nature and wildlife.
The hope is that this will prevent poaching, if the future generations have more compassion and understanding.
The children then have the opportunity to be a part of dehorning on reserves in the area, to visualize and participate in the operation itself, reiterating everything they learn in class. Anna says she loves what she does and especially the work she does with monitoring both rhino and pangolin, and working alongside world-renowned wildlife veterinarians in dehorning operations.
Not only does Anna do all of the above, during her spare time she volunteers for HALO (Hoedspruit Animal Outreach), a NPO working with community dogs and owners to provide education, nutrition, medical care and vaccinations for dogs in harsh conditions.
Unbelievably, she also works with Khaya Hanci Horse-trails, a project that rescues horses from abusive homes, slaughter auctions or neglect, and rehabilitates them for loving homes or horse-trails on Moholoholo Mountain View Reserve.
What an inspiration this young lady is. I realize we can’t all be as involved as this young lady, and it’s easy to shy away from getting involved at all.
But I urge you to take your little “rock”, whatever your cause, find your inspiration, put it on the scales and eventually all of our little “rocks” will tip the scales of life, and we will start to make a real difference in this world we call home.